Skip to main content

Public Action and Sports Betting Strategies

by December 7, 2018

If everyone you knew jumped off of a bridge, would you follow? Okay, okay, hopefully your answer is a resounding no. But what if everyone you know and trust decided to throw $1,000 dollars into an investment you found to be very shady? Would you blindly follow suit because that’s what everyone else was doing? Or would you trust your gut and research and do your own thing? Seriously, this is a huge question. People from both sides make up our society. Some people are followers while some people like to blaze their own paths. Neither way is wrong. When it comes to sports betting, though, it’s essential to know your personality.

Public action, or how the public bets on a game, impacts sports betting tremendously in many ways. When lots more money becomes wagered on one team rather than another, sportsbooks like to protect themselves. Therefore, odds can change when large amounts of money are bet on one side. Furthermore, since 2003 in the NFL, when 80% of the total number of bets are wagered on one side, the other side wins 55% of the time! Public action can unveil loads of valuable information to the bettor.

Check out our review for PointsBet including special offers & promo codes >>

Why is it important to know your personality when it comes to sports betting? Personality plays a large part in how bettors bet. Often times, it does so without the bettor even knowing. Strong-willed, independent personalities tend to like to do their own thing. On the other hand, people with more submissive personalities tend to like to follow the crowd. Always blindly following the public action on a game is not a great strategy to take. Perpetually being a contrarian and betting against the public with every wager is also not a great strategy. So, how can a bettor take all of this into account and successfully implement it into wagers? Fully understanding public action is a great place to start.

Public Tendencies

Public action tends to be the heaviest in two areas, the favorite and the over bet. This means that typically a higher percentage of the bets are placed on the favorite to win rather than the underdog. The same goes for the over bet as compared to the under. Knowing this information can mean a few things for sports bettors.

First, if the public action is tilted extremely heavily towards one side of a game, there is some reason for it. It’s up to the bettor to find out what that reason is and whether it is quality or not. Second, the public almost always favors certain teams. Currently in the NFL, the most obvious example is the New England Patriots. In MLB, the Red Sox and Yankees are two easy examples. And in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors and LeBron’s team (literally, whoever he’s playing for at the time) are typically bet on more often than not by the public.

What role can knowing all of this play? Take the Patriots this year (2018), for example. Through 12 weeks of the NFL season, the Patriots have actually had a few slip-ups. They’re still 8-3, but on the road, the Patriots are just 3-3. A bettor could have netted some serious profits betting against the Patriots in all six of their road games this season, even though the bettor’s record would be 3-3. Since the Patriots are almost always favorites and heavily bet on by the public, bettors can typically snag great odds against them. Sportsbooks know this and give quality odds to entice bettors into wagering against them. The higher the dollar figure jumps for the Patriots, the higher the chance at catching great odds to bet against them. Being aware of teams the public typically favors can help sports bettors receive an edge over their peers.

Similar to the example above, knowing the teams who are blindly favored by the public can help bettors spot potential outliers. If the Patriots are being heavily bet against, something is going on. This should set off a metaphorical alarm in a bettor’s head. Once more, the bettor should begin to question how and why this is the case. Depending on the scenario, maybe this is a great time to follow suit and wager against them. Or, under different circumstances, maybe it’s a great time to fade the public and buy the Patriots for much greater odds than they normally get. As is always the case with sports betting, each and every scenario calls for a unique set of actions.

All of the same rings true for the over/under bet, as well. The public normally favors the over bet (I mean, who doesn’t want to root for more points?). If money is furiously being thrown at the over for a game, sportsbooks will adjust the odds to entice bettors to wager on the under. It’s up to the bettor whether he’ll take the sportsbook’s bait and fade, or trust the public and follow suit with the over bet. On the flip side, if the public is actually favoring the under, the bettor must take a careful look at why then bet accordingly.

Taking Advantage of Public Action

First of all, it’s obviously critical to know how to find public action information. Believe it or not, a simple Google search will direct bettors to all the percentages available from different games. (Unfortunately, actual dollar figures will not be available. Sportsbooks don’t release this information.) Websites offer spreadsheets laying out what percentage of wagers are being placed on the different bets for a game. It’s that simple.

So, what are two of the biggest ways to take advantage of public action information?

When public action favors the underdog
As mentioned above, when the public favors the underdog, something is up. Whatever the reason for the favoritism is, this could present a wonderful opportunity to capitalize on. It’s as easy to understand as this. The public normally bets on favorites. When the public doesn’t bet on the favorite, people must really like the underdog. Bet accordingly.

When the public favoritism is so high that the line shifts and offers incredible odds to the other side
Again, pretty simple stuff here to understand. Team A might not have a great chance at +3.5 to beat the spread. But if the public bets so heavily on team B to cover the -3.5 spread that the line shifts to +5.5 and -5.5 accordingly, maybe team A becomes much more appetizing. Opportunities to capitalize on line shifts happen all the time. Check the odds as soon as a bet is available and monitor whether or not it changes as the game gets closer.

Taking advantage of public action can be the difference between winning and losing in sports betting. So, what kind of personality do you have? Are you going to blindly follow the public? Or do you plan to blaze your own way to sports betting glory? As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Get all of our sports betting 101 topics >>

Alex Altmix is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Alex, check out his archive.